What a Whopper!

The first peony I ever grew was ‘Red Charm’. When I moved house I had to replace it because I couldn’t live without it. You can see why:

It is the first peony to flower in my garden, so always gets a lot of attention. Here it is, cocking it’s head, showing off its jagged petaloids.

It is the deepest red of all my peonies, with just a hint of cherry lipgloss.

If I were to pick a flower, I would need two hands to hold it.

I think it has grown since this photo was taken.

Over the next couple of weeks, the outer petals will flatten and the inner petaloids will arch up into a backbend. They rise, and keep on rising, like triumphant ruby flames.

This photo is from last year, showing it at the height of conflagration.

Herbaceous peonies are incredibly easy to grow. You plant the bare-root in winter, just making sure the growing tips are no more than 5cm below the surface of the soil. Planting too deeply is the most common reason why a peony fails to flower. If you think you have done this, dig it up, add a bit of soil to the bottom of the hole, and replant it.

Some of the taller peonies need support: one cane with twine holding all the stems halfway up will do the trick, or a half-circle wire support.

Then in late Autumn, remove all foliage. You can add a mulch of compost or well-rotted manure, but move it away from the centre, as it can cause the crown to rot. No one wants a rotten crown. I make a little ring around mine, with a mulch-free exclusion-zone at the centre.

And that is all the care they need.

They will reward you with one or two blooms the first year, three or four the second, and ever-increasing numbers for the next fifty years.

My favourite supplier of peonies is Claire Austin Hardy Plants.

Kelways also have a very good collection, and a wonderful glamorous website, but are slightly more expensive.

Come back for more peonies over the next week or two – I have lots more on their way. Like this one, ‘Coral Charm’, maybe a couple of days away!

My aim on this site is to share the sense of wonder I get from gardening and being outdoors. 

If you would like to join the joy, click on the ‘Follow’ button at the end of this post. You will receive an email each time I post a little pop of wonder. 

33 Comments Add yours

  1. Emma Cownie says:

    Whoa! What an amazing flower. What have you been feeding them?

    1. Emma Cownie says:

      Ignore that last comment – you say in your blog, now I reread it. I haven’t woken up properly yet.

      1. Ali says:

        That’s ok Emma, I do that all the time! They do look like they’ve been pumped up with steroids, but this is natural exuberance. They put everything into this three or four weeks of flowering. But the foliage is fab for the rest of the summer. They are brilliant value.

      2. Emma Cownie says:

        I like plants that give good value.

  2. janesmudgeegarden says:

    What a star that peony is. I love it when it rises up: it looks as though it could sit on a titled lady’s head at a garden party.

    1. Ali says:

      It does! It is worthy of Ascot!

  3. pommepal says:

    That is magnificent, a queen of flowers

  4. It’s stunning, such a beautiful colour.

  5. Wow! Beautiful … one of my favourites too. Katie x

  6. Claudette says:

    One of my fav flowers too – the are so delicious.

  7. Valonia says:

    Wow, the flower is beautiful! My peony seems to have stopped growing and it’s only 5 or so inches tall. I’m hoping it’s going to have a late growth spurt!

  8. Heyjude says:

    They are definitely the queen of flowers at this time of the year. I don’t have room for any more shrubs so I shall just have to enjoy yours.

    1. Ali says:

      I am so relieved I can start to deliver on the promised peonies now, Jude!

  9. FlowerAlley says:

    Another for the list. Wow!

  10. Thank you so much for your post. I moved into my home about 10 years ago to find the same beautiful peony growing next to the house and I’ve never been able to identify it. Thank you!

    1. Ali says:

      I am so pleased to have been of use! It is so frustrating when you can’t identify a variety!

  11. Val says:

    Fabulous! And I can’t believe how large the bloom is!

    1. Ali says:

      I think it is one of my larger peonies!

  12. Eliza Waters says:

    Stunning!
    Peonies are wonderful and quite easy, I agree. The only additional thing I have to do here is add lime every other year as the soil tends to be acidic.

    1. Ali says:

      Ah, that’s interesting. Our soil is very slightly acidic, but I don’t add lime. What happens if you don’t?

      1. Eliza Waters says:

        They peter out over time. I get much better bud production if I adjust the pH.

  13. Oh my goodness! These flowers are gorgeous. I realize that I know so few plant names. I want to start learning more of them.

    1. Ali says:

      You may know more than you think you do. Some come back from childhood. Others seem slightly elusive, like speaking in tongues, but then you realise you’ve caught on!

  14. Oh my! I will have to get this one, although my red one now may feel inadequate in comparison. Also, will have to find room for it – but with a flower like that I will make room!

    1. Ali says:

      You won’t regret it! I have one of the flowers in a vase in front of me, and it is growing still!

  15. Red Charm is a whopper for sure, and also gorgeous! I have Coral Charm, which is my earliest to bloom peony, but I may have to add Red Charm to the garden 🙂

  16. Gorgeous! My peony is about to pop open, but it’s not nearly as spectacular as yours!

    1. Ali says:

      Oh, but it will be, I’m sure!

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